Current River — April 26, 2003

Last week someone someone emailed me regarding one of my posts on an email list, about heading down to the Current River for 5 hours of fishing as “Hard Core,” I don’t know about that, but Craig and I met up at Denny’s on Saturday at about 3:45am and were at the TanVat access on the Current by 5:45am. We were a little skeptical about being able to fish the river, given all the recent rains (the usgs gauge took a huge spike on thursday/friday and was at 2.4 on friday night when I went to bed, but had fallen to 2.3 by saturday morning when i woke at 2:30am). We pulled into the TanVat access and there were 4 vehicles in the lot already (2 of whom looked to be camping), and a group of 3 guys fishing the big pool at the access — i thought for sure we were in for a crowd upstream. We quickly suited up and rigged our rods and took off for the walk upstream. After Craig pointed out several deer in the big field, and we checked the water level occasionally (with all the fog, the water looked up considerably — but it wasn’t up that much).

We stopped at a big deep pool upstream from TanVat and began to fish. I hooked up with a 14″ rainbow on a tan/ginger mohair leech on my second cast — i thought to myself “at least i won’t get skunked.” About 10 minutes later I hooked up and landed a solid 17″ rainbow on the same mohair! Definitely not a bad trip. The rainbow had beautiful colors, and was landed quickly and still had lots of fight in him, as when we were trying to take a photo I lost her back in the water (although the photo wouldn’t have taken anyway, because I forgot to put a flash card in my digital camera!). I had landed 2 fish before the whistle in the park — not bad. Craig was still o- fer on the stream. We continued to fish the same run for about an hour, and didn’t see or hear another soul on the stream. The highlight of this run, was the fish that got away (what fishing story would be complete without one). I hooked into a seriously large fish in this run. Although I never saw the fish, as it held deep in the water and never came up close enough for craig or I to get a look at it. I knew the fish was a bigger fish, and was trying to get my line to the reel and fight the fish at the same time — it made a run down towards Craig in some faster water, and I almost had my line all up (thanks to the run by the fish) and then it turned and swam back towards me and the fish got enough slack and that was all she wrote. I don’t have a clue how big the fish was, all i know is that she was on my mohair for about a minute or so and I never got a look at her but my rod was bent over pretty good and Craig was ready with the net. We finished up at this hole, and decided to walk upstream.

On the walk there, we didn’t see or hear anyone else on the stream — and the weather was absolutely beautiful. Craig still hadn’t landed a fish, and wasn’t getting near the hookups i was. I was on fire at the deeper water in this hole — quickly landing 6 fish in a little more than an hour in this run. Still no one in sight. Craig moved down below me and fished the tail of the real deep water there. He missed a couple of fish, and then missed a very large fish TWICE. Then two guys came down from the park (or at least upstream of us) — one of them was fishing, and the other was shooting photos (complete with backpack, rod tube, and tripod) of the guy fishing. I wondered if they were doing an article on fishing the Current River. After quick hellos and the obligatory “having any luck” they quickly went on their way downstream about 150 yards and proceeded to fish and take photos. We went back to the task at hand — catching Current River trout. Craig and I traded spots in the run we were fishing, and I went down to see if I could get a look at that big fish that had Craig shaking. Craig finally landed a fish in the run i had just been fishing on a chili pepper mohair. I tied on a brown mohair and proceeded to fish, when it happened. A very large fish came straight up off the bottom and hammered my fly in mid-strip — missed opportunity. I threw back up in the same run and he hammered it again, only this time i stuck him albeit too hard and snapped my fly off. Talk about an adrenalin rush — watching a large trout take your fly less than 15 feet away! So if anyone catches this fish, i would like my mohair back please.

About 9:30 a large hatch was coming off — we believe there were 2 kinds of bugs, as some of them had about 1/2″ split tails and the others did not. They were landing on the water and crawling all over everything. The fish began to key in on them and start rising occasionally, but I was having too many hookups to switch. About 10:30 or so, we decided to start the walk back to the the access, quickly stopping to fish the first deep hole we fished in the morning right behind the photographer and angler. I picked up my last fish of the day — a 12″ brown.

This was by far my best day on the Current River — 9 trout landed (2 rainbows, the biggest 17″; and 7 browns, the biggest 15″ and skinny), 4 LDR’s, and many more missed opportunities all in about 4 hours of fishing. Craig didn’t get skunked and ended up with one for the day (a nice brown trout). We were not once crowded on the river at all. We did talk to another angler in a black ford expedition that had fished the Baptist Camp access this morning only catching a couple, but had dealt with some canoe traffic — i quickly gave him some tan/ginger leeches and we were on our way back to St. Louis (if the angler that I gave the leeches to reads this — shoot me an email and let me know how you did). 4.5 hours of drive time, 4.5 hours of fish time, 10 fish landed and many more missed, makes for a very long day of fishing — but what a day. — Matt Tucker

Spring River (Mammoth Spring, AR) — April 4 – 6, 2003

What a weekend! I have decided to start charging Mark for fishing lessons. There will be no more — hey Mark, why don’t you stand here and cast there………..; every time I would say that he would catch a fish on the first cast. Or, my favorite, this is how you strip a wooly…..teach a guy to strip a wooly bugger and he will make you his bit$# the rest of the weekend.

We left St. Louis around 1pm (after a stop by FeatherCraft and Schnucks for some last minute supplies), stopped at Denny’s for lunch in Rolla and started the trek down to Mammoth Spring, Arkansas down Hwy. 63. When we left Rolla the temperature was close to 70 degrees, by the time we got to Cabool it had started raining but the temperature hadn’t dropped that much. In West Plains, MO we hit the hail and POURING rain — it was pretty nasty there on Friday. We arrived at the RiverView Motel about 5:30 or 6:00pm, checked in, and decided to hit the water for some night fishing in the rain and lightening. We fished friday night for about an hour in the rain and dark, until we got scared out of the water due to the lightening. I was throwing a tan/ginger mohair leech and missed one fish. Mark scored on one fish, right at the boat access, on a scud under an indicator. Friday evening fish score — Mark 1; Matt 0.

Saturday morning, we were on the water by 5:00am with no one in sight. The Spring River is absolutely a beautiful river. We took allot of photos on this trip, and they don’t even begin to capture the beauty of this stream. We started off by fishing the Lasetter Access (named the Lasetter Access, I later learned, because “Old Man” Lasetter used to charge $.50 to park and fish the river from his farm, or $3/night to camp there) which was in view of our hotel (basically, if you looked out the balcony of our hotel you could see the access). It is the only stream access I have fished in this river in the past. I picked up a couple of fish on a brown mohair leech, and Mark picked up a couple fish on a brown or black wooly bugger. We were supposed to meet up with Dan Sears (Danoinark) and Tom Anderson (not a STL group member) at around 8:30am. We had been fishing for 3hrs already, so I decided to fish my way back to the access point to meet up with Dan and Tom when they arrived.

They arrived around 9am or so (they had stopped off for a breakfast of biscuits & gravy — so they can be forgiven) and after introductions and some brief visiting, Tom offered to show us 2 other access points for the river. He took us to the Bayou Access of the river (down a gravel/dirt road about 4 miles — which I would have never found) and to the hatchery access. The Spring River has ALOT of fishable water. After about an hour of sight-seeing, we decided to fish the Lassetter Access the rest of the morning. All you MiniVan naysayers beware, Tom was driving a mini-van and I am convinced that they make great fish cars due to all the room — and he drove it like a baja racer to the Bayou Access. This is when Mark started his fishing lessons for Dan and I — Mark quickly caught 4 fish on a black wooly. Dan eeked out a fish, after listening to the advice of Tom and fishing a chute of water a certain way. I still hadn’t caught a fish, since returning from our car ride. Even Tom got into the action catching 3 fish in about 30 minutes from the riffle below our hotel. Dan and Tom left after about an hour of fishing or so. It was really nice meeting both of them and I look forward to visiting/fishing with them on future trips to Arkansas (or whenever they decide to venture up to our neck of the woods). Mark and I decided to hit Sonic for lunch (he had never been to Sonic before) and then try our luck at the Bayou Access. Saturday Morning Fish Score — Dan 1; Tom 3; Matt 7; Mark 11.

After a quick lunch at Sonic we headed to the Bayou Access. This was the first access that actually had people fishing it — however, they were all suiting up and leaving the water. This section of river was nice as well. This was the first time that I had fished this section of water — I heeded Tom’s advice and parked myself in a riffle in front of the access and eeked out 6 fish over the next 3 hours. Mark did a little exploring upstream, where Tom indicated there may be some bigger rainbows and caught one fish. The scenery at this access was superb. There was some canoe traffic at this access, but nothing like seen on Missouri waters (in total i think 5 canoes/rafts drifted past me in my riffle – – and all but 1 floated behind me and apologized for disturbing the fishing). We both got a ton of sun that afternoon, and by 4:30pm I had decided to call it quits and go enjoy some ice cold water and a shaded chair. When I got back to my Blazer, it was covered in Caddis. This was the biggest hatch I have ever seen — they were very thick and flying/crawling over everything. I opted to sit back and watch the water a little, to see if there was any dry fly activity — no fish activity what-so-ever. I gave Mark my 3wt and he went up to some slower water, where he educated chubs in dry fly presentations of tiny griffith’s gnats. This was the most enjoyable part of the weekend, kicked back next to a beautiful river with no one in site and no other sounds. We stopped fishing about 6:00pm, and after about 11 hours of fishing in the sun and upper 60 degree weather. Saturday Afternoon/evening Fish Score – – Mark 1; Matt 6. Total Saturday Fish Score — Mark 12; Matt 13 (after 11 hours)

Sunday morning we woke up at 5am to the wind howling and the rain, and very very cold temperatures. The temperature when we arrived at the Lassetter Access (after checking out of the hotel, and packing up the Blazer) was a cool 31 degrees with rain and wind blowing to 25mph. There was a 40 degree temperature drop, rain, and wind conditions that all indicated neither of us should hook up on fish — it was a prescription for FAILURE. This was perhaps Mark’s day — he put on a black wooly bugger and proceeded to school me. It was pretty cool to watch; he worked the far bank and hooked up with fish at ease. I finally switched from a black mohair to a black wooly (i was convinced up until this day that a black mohair could keep pace with a black wooly any day) and started catching fish. I picked up one fish on a crackleback on top (saw the rising fish, casted to the rising fish, caught the rising fish), and broke off a BIG fish that all I could do was get him to boil under the water — but Mark saw the boil from about 50 yards away, and the fish hit the leech like a freight train. When it wasn’t pouring rain, it was gusting wind — it was really tough conditions to be fly fishing. I squeaked out 3 more fish on a black wooly — the biggest being about 15 or 16″ and by far the fattest one for myself this trip. I packed up my stuff and headed for the Blazer, while Mark fished his way down to the access point on the far side of the bank. He continued to hook up with fish. His last fish was his finest of the weekend, he hooked up with a 16″ rainbow that was really fat and put on quite a fight (i watched him land the fish while packing up my gear). Mark ended his fly fishing lessons with this rainbow. He was pretty excited and pumped after 3 hours of fishing in these conditions. Sunday Morning Fish Score — Matt 4; Mark 14. Total Weekend Fish Score — Matt 17; Mark 27.

The Spring River is a beautiful river, and I will be back this fall. It is a beautiful spring creek fishery that i hope will continue to be overlooked by everyone. The fish are not big (averaging 12″) at the accesses we were at. — Matt Tucker